No. 452 Squadron

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No. 452 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, was the first Australian squadron to form in Britain during the Second World War in accordance with Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme. Its first personnel took up their posts at Kirton in Lindsey on 8 April 1941 and, flying Supermarine Spitfires, the squadron became operational on 22 May.

Part of 11 Group of Fighter Command, 452 Squadron operated from a series of airfields in south-eastern Britain. The focus of its operations were the skies above occupied France and Belgium, where it escorted bombing raids and conducted sweeps to engage enemy aircraft. The squadron was also employed to conduct defensive patrols over Britain and the English Channel. During its first year of operations 452 Squadron established itself as one of the most successful squadrons in Fighter Command, destroying 62 enemy aircraft and damaging another 17. Its aircraft also severely damaged a German destroyer with a strafing attack mounted during the “dash” through the English Channel made by the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prince Eugen on 11 February 1942.

Under orders to return to Australia, 452 Squadron withdrew from operations in Britain on 23 March 1942. It sailed for home on 21 June, arrived in Melbourne on 13 August, and re-assembled at Richmond on 6 September. The squadron began refresher training at Richmond with a motley collection of aircraft, its Spitfires having being commandeered in transit by the Royal Air Force in the Middle East.

452 Squadron returned to front-line service on 17 January 1943. Re-equipped with Spitfires, it was based at Batchelor in the Northern Territory and joined 1 Fighter Group, defending Darwin. The squadron relocated to Strauss on 1 February and, with the exception of a brief period between 9 and 27 March 1943 when it was deployed to reinforce the air defences of Perth, it remained there, protecting Darwin, until 30 June 1944.

On 1 July 1944, 452 Squadron moved to Sattler in the Northern Territory. The protection of Darwin had been handed over to two Royal Air Force squadrons, allowing 452 Squadron to be employed in a ground attack role for the rest of the war. Initially, the squadron operated against targets in the Dutch East Indies from Sattler but on 11 December 1944 it joined the 1st Tactical Air Force and relocated to Morotai in the Indies to support Australian operations in Borneo. The squadron’s ground staff established themselves at the newly captured airfield on Tarakan on 10 May 1945, but the state of the actual landing field meant that it was not fit for the squadron’s aircraft to arrive there until 29 June. They began operational sorties the very next day. Following the landing at Balikpapan on 1 July, a detachment of 452 Squadron aircraft moved there on 15 July to support the land campaign. The squadron’s last sorties of the war were flown on 10 August 1945. It disbanded on 17 November 1945.

Squadron Code:

TD 8 April 1941 - 23 March 1942
FU 17 January 1943 - 17 November 1945

No. 452 Squadron was a Royal Australian Air Force fighter unit formed during World War II, in England. The squadron flew Supermarine Spitfires for the entire war, initially over the UK and Nazi-occupied Europe. The squadron was later based in Australia and the Netherlands East Indies.

Keith 'Bluey' Truscott was perhaps the best-known of the squadron's fliers. Although it was an RAAF unit, while it was in Europe, 452 Sqn also had some British personnel, from the Royal Air Force as well as other British Commonwealth air forces and other nationalities. One of these was the Irish ace Paddy Finucane. A number of Polish pilots also flew with the squadron and proved to be formidable pilots, despite occasional language problems.

No. 452 Squadron rapidly developed a formidable reputation in operations against German forces. They were involved in many different kinds of operations. One of the most unusual was escorting a bomber that — with the co-operation of the Germans — dropped an artificial leg by parachute into Europe, for the use of the British ace Douglas Bader, who was a prisoner of war. The bombers flew on to bomb a factory.

Another notable operation was the attack on the German warships Scharnhorst, Prinz Eugen and Gneisenau which were attempting the 'Channel Dash', from their French harbour. Allied aircraft inflicted severe damage to these ships, despite intense anti-aircraft fire. The squadron did not lose an aircraft or suffer any damage to it on this occasion. Truscott was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for this action.
In 1943, the squadron returned to Australia and was based in Darwin, defending northern Australia from Japanese air raids as part of No. 1 Wing RAAF. In May 1944 it became part of No. 80 Wing RAAF.

The squadron finished the war as part of the Australian First Tactical Air Force, based in the Dutch East Indies.

452 Squadron RAAF Diary

452 Squadron RAAF was formed at Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire in the UK on 8 April 1941 under Commanding Officer Squadron Leader R.G. Dutton (RAF), DFC and Bar.

Squadron Leader Robert Wilton Bungey (257414) took over as Commanding Officer on 15 June 1941. The Squadron joined 11 Group Fighter Command in Kenley, UK on 21 July 1941. The Squadron moved to Redhill on 21 November 1941.

Squadron Leader Keith William 'Bluey' Truscott (400213), took over as Commanding Officer on 25 January 1942. He was replaced by Squadron Leader Ray Edward Thorold-Smith (402144) on 18 March 1942.

452 Squadron left Liverpool, UK on 21 June 1942 and arrived in Melbourne in mid August 1942 minus their Spitfires which had been commandeered by the RAF whilst in transit.

452 Squadron RAAF reformed at Richmond airfield in New South Wales on 7 September 1942. 452 Squadron after re-equipping with Mk Vc Spitfires moved to Darwin in the Northern Territory arriving there on 17 January 1943 and after initially being located at Batchelor Airfield moved to Strauss Airfield. It was from Strauss Airfield that the Squadron claimed its first Japanese victories during Japanese Raid No. 53 on the Darwin Oil Fuel tanks and Floating Dock, when Flying Officer Adrian Philip Goldsmith (402500) shot down a Mitsubishi 'Betty' and a Zero.

On 27 January 1943 F.VC Spitfire A58-55 (BR549) and F.VC Spitfire A58-73 (BS184) of 452 Squadron RAAF collided 4 miles south east of Coomalie Creek Airfield in the Northern Territory. Sgt. Eric .Ebsworth Hutchinson (403602), the pilot of Spitfire A58-73 was killed. Sgt. Henry William Stockley (407881) in A58-55 was not injured in this tragic incident

On 27 February 1943, Mark F.VC Spitfire, A58-69 (BS175) of 452 Squadron RAAF crashed inverted in bad weather at Tabletop Range, near Litchfield Park (near Batchelor), en route to Wyndham from Strauss airfield. The pilot Flying Officer William Hendrie Ford was killed.

Squadron Leader R.S. MacDonald took over as Commanding Officer of 452 Squadron RAAF on 30 March 1943.

On 2 May 1943 during Japanese Raid No. 54 on Darwin RAAF airfield and a Floating Dock, Flying Officer Adrian Philip Goldsmith (402500) shot down a Nakajima 'Helen' but was then forced to bale out joining three other squadron pilots. They all landed safely. Flying Officer Alexander Charles McNab (405420) was killed during combat during this raid. F.VC Spitfire A58-53 (BR547) Code QY-S, piloted by R. Stagg of 452 Squadron RAAF went missing at sea after a dogfight with some Japanese aircraft west of Darwin Harbour on 2 May 1943.

During the rest of May and June 1943 the squadron was scrambled on a number of occasions to respond to unidentified aircraft which were normally straying USAAF B-24 Liberators.

On 20 June 1943 Squadron Leader R. S. MacDonald, Flight Lieutenant John Henry Eric Bisley (402720) and Flight Lieutenant D. Evans each shot down a Japanese 'Sally'. Flying Officer Robert Harold Whillans (404693) and Flight Sergeant K. Cross each claimed a damaged 'Sally'. Flying Officer Granville Allen Mawer (403112) shot down a Japanese Zero and Pilot Officer Anthony Thomas Ruskin-Rowe (411389) shot down two more Zeros. Pilot Officer Ruskin-Rowe was shortly later shot down and killed in Spitfire BS174 at Cape Gambier, Northern Territory. Pilot Officer Willie Everard Nichterlein (416104) was also show down and killed in Spitfire EE 607 over Adam Bay, Van Diemen Gulf on the same day.

On 30 June 1943, Spitfires from 452 Squadron were involved in aerial combat with over 40 Japanese aircraft. Squadron Leader MacDonald claimed a 'Betty' bomber and and Flying Officer Clive Percival Lloyd claimed a Zero. Both were forced to bale out from their aircraft due to combat damage. Pilot Officer Paul Dominic Tully (404998) claimed a probable Zero. Flight Sergeant C.R. Duncan (possibly Colin Ronald Duncan 401778) was also forced to bale out and then spent five days in the bush before he was rescued.

Flying Officer William John Lamerton (407900) died as a result of a crash landing in Spitfire BR 241 (A58-19) at Strauss airfield in the Northern Territory on the 30 June 1943. He was buried at the Adelaide River War Cemetery. Unfortunately his name was spelt incorrectly as 'Lammerton' on his headstone. His sister Miss M. Lamerton wrote to the Secretary, Department of Air on 10 March 1947 after visiting her brother's grave asking for the mistake to be rectified. His Spitfire developed engine trouble at a height of approximately 16,000 feet.

On 6 July 1943, 452 Squadron shot down two Zeros. Two pilots were forced to bale out and another pilot crash landed after and engine failure.

Flight Sergeant Paul Angelo Padula (411813) and Wing Commander Caldwell shared a 'Dinah' kill on 20 August 1943.

Flying Officer Adrian Philip Goldsmith (402500) shot down a 'Tony' on 7 September 1943 and four other Japanese aircraft were claimed as probables or damaged. Squadron leader MacDonald was wounded and was forced to bale out of his aircraft. Pilot Officer Paul Dominic Tully (404998) was also forced to bale out of his Spitfire.

Spitfires piloted by Flying Officer Granville Allen Mawer (403112) and Flying Officer Adam collided on 25 September 1943 tragically killing both men.

The Japanese carried out their final air raid (Raid No. 64) on 12 November 1943 in the Parap and Adelaide River areas as well as on Batchelor airfield.

Squadron Leader Louis Thomas Spence (011315), DFC, took over as Commanding Officer on 3 February 1944. In early March 1944, the Squadron deployed to Guildford in Western Australia to defend a perceived threat to the Perth area which never eventuated.

452 Squadron relocated from Guildford to the Darwin area on 17 April 1944. They took part in an attack on Japanese installations on Babar and Wetan Islands. It was at this time that the Squadron converted from Mk V Spitfires to Mk VIII Spitfires.

452 Squadron shot down a 'Dinah' on 12 June 1944.

On 18 September 1944, Flying Officer Arthur Keith Kelly (401968) of 452 Squadron RAAF piloting Spitfire A58-435, was taking part in an interception and attack exercise on B-24 Liberator #42-40935 of the 380th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force over Cape Van Diemen. During a head on simulated attack, F/O Kelly's Spitfire collided with the B-24 and spiralled into the sea. His body was never found.

After the arrival of two RAF Squadrons, 452 Squadron relocated to Morotai on 11 December 1944 attached to 1 Tactical Air Force )RAAF). Flying Officer Jack Amerson Pretty (409220) shot down one of two Japanese aircraft that visited the area on 24 December 1944.

Group Captain Caldwell led an attack on Miti Airfield on 13 January 1945. Flight Sergeant Edmond MacLeod Stevenson c(432589) crashed and was captured by the Japanese. He died in captivity on 14 April 1945.

452 Squadron relocated to Tarakan in May 1945 and flew in support of the Balikpapan operation. Squadron Leader Kevin Milne Barclay (035247), DFC, took over as Commanding Officer on 4 June 1945. They flew their first operation on 30 June 1945. From July 1945, the Spitfires of 452 Squadron operated with Kittyhawks in a ground attack role.

On 2 July 1945, twenty-four Kittyhawks of No. 75 Squadron and Spitfires of No. 452 Squadron, carried out air strikes on Kalabakan and Simalumong. The Spitfires made eight strafing passes at Simalumong and on his last pass, Flight Lieutenant Proctor crashed and was killed.

On 12 July 1945 Squadron Leader Kevin Milne Barclay (035247) was forced to bale out of his Spitfire and was rescued by a boat. He went on to lead an attack on Japanese 'pillboxes' from their new base at Sepinang.

452 Squadron carried out successful attacks on barges, motor transports and fixed installations on 19th, 22nd and 24th July 1945. The Squadron shot down a Japanese bomber over Balikpapan on the evening of 24 July 1945. This was the last Japanese kill before the war ended.

452 Squadron RAAF was eventually disbanded at Tarakan on 17 October 1945.

Web Reference:

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This webpage was updated 30th June 2023